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The Tarnished Angels (1957)

Story of a friendship between an eccentric journalist and a daredevil barnstorming pilot.

Director:

Douglas Sirk

Writers:

William Faulkner (novel), George Zuckerman (screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Rock Hudson ... Burke Devlin
Robert Stack ... Roger Shumann
Dorothy Malone ... LaVerne Shumann
Jack Carson ... Jiggs
Robert Middleton ... Matt Ord
Alan Reed ... Colonel Fineman
Alexander Lockwood Alexander Lockwood ... Sam Hagood
Christopher Olsen ... Jack Shumann (as Chris Olsen)
Robert J. Wilke ... Hank
Troy Donahue ... Frank Burnham
William Schallert ... Ted Baker
Betty Utey Betty Utey ... Dancing Girl
Phil Harvey ... Telegraph Editor
Steve Drexel Steve Drexel ... Young Man
Eugene Borden Eugene Borden ... Claude Mollet
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Storyline

In the 1930's, a First World War flying ace named Roger Schumann is reduced to making appearances on the crash-and-burn circuit of stunt aerobatics. His family are forced to live like dogs while Shumann pursues his only true love, the airplane. When Burke Devlin, a reporter, shows up on the scene to do a "whatever happened to" story on Shumann, he is repulsed by the war hero's diminished circumstances and, conversely, drawn to his stunning wife, LaVerne. Written by Alfred Jingle

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 December 1957 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Pylon See more »

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Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$9,788
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Douglas Sirk reportedly stated in an interview this was the best film he directed. See more »

Goofs

Despite the fact that the story is taking place in the early 1930s, all of Dorothy Malone's clothing, hairstyles and make-up are strictly 1957, the year the picture was filmed. See more »

Quotes

Ted Baker: On the level, what'd you do last night?
Burke Devlin: Nothing much:just sat up half the night discussing literature and life with a beautiful, half naked blonde.
Ted Baker: You better change bootleggers.
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Soundtracks

Old Folks at Home
(uncredited)
Written by Stephen Foster
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User Reviews

 
The Forgotten Sirk Film...Still Watchable for His Familiar Touch
19 October 2006 | by EUyeshimaSee all my reviews

This is the forgotten Douglas Sirk film from his golden period in the 1950's when he made such classic Baroque-style women's pictures as "Magnificent Obsession", "All That Heaven Allows", "Written on the Wind" and "Imitation of Life". The black-and-white 1958 film doesn't have the saturated color palette of Sirk's frequent cinematographer, Russell Metty (who did lens those other films), nor does the story, based on William Faulkner's novel "Pylon", have as strong an orientation toward a female protagonist as the others. Yet, the film has many of the filmmaker's trademark melodramatic flourishes and some superb shot compositions, this time photographed by Irving Glassberg. The result is quite worthwhile and sadly not available yet on DVD.

Set in 1932 New Orleans (though you can hardly tell from the anachronistic 1950's-era wardrobe and sets), the plot focuses on Roger Shumann, a former WWI flying ace who has been relegated to racing around pylons in air shows for prize money. He's married to LaVerne, so in love with Roger that she became a parachute jumper to please him, while raising their son Jack, who worships the ground on which Roger walks. Speaking of hero worship, there is also the dim-witted Jiggs, Roger's loyal mechanic, who holds a torch for LaVerne. Into this dysfunctional band comes local newspaperman Burke Devlin, who smells a good story in reporting on this transient family living hand to mouth to fulfill Roger's intractable need to fly. A lot of emotional gut-punches are thrown among these characters, especially between Roger and LaVerne, until a late moment of clarity seems to arrive too late. The last fifteen minutes contain come far-fetched plot convolutions, but they are in the spirit of the piece.

Sirk reunited three of his stars from 1956's "Written on the Wind" - Rock Hudson, Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone - to play the three principals, so they know how to maintain conviction with more than a touch of Sirk's often maddening soap opera excess. Hudson, in particular, really shines in this sort of material as Devlin, even in a hilariously conceived drunken speech at the end. Stack is his typical jaw-clenching self though with a morbid sense of self-loathing only Sirk could serve up, and Malone is surprisingly sensual as LaVerne, whether fighting off her impulses about Devlin or hanging on to a trapeze bar as she floats off her parachute with her skirt billowing up (a classic shot). Jack Carson plays Jiggs as the pathetically smitten man he is, while Christopher Olsen has a heartbreaking scene where he is stuck on an amusement park ride watching fate deal its hand (trivia - Olsen is Cindy Brady's real-life brother). This isn't an out-and-out great film but still a very watchable entry in the Sirk canon.


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